A report published in the September, 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Preventionconcluded that consuming the US Recommended Daily Allowance of 400 (IU) of vitamin D each day was associated a 43 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to individuals who consume less than 150 IU. Pancreatic cancer is estimated to be diagnosed in 32,000 individuals in the U.S. this year, and an equal number of people are expected to die from it.
Halcyon Skinner, PhD, of Northwestern University, and his colleagues at Harvard evaluated data from 46,771 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and 75,427 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study. Vitamin D from diet and supplements and diet alone was calculated for each subject from food frequency questionnaire responses. Over 16 years of follow-up, 365 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed.
The researchers found that consuming between 300 and 449 IU vitamin D per day from diet and supplements was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to the risk experienced by those whose vitamin D intake was lowest at less than 150 IU per day. Even those subjects whose intake was between 150 and 299 IU per day experienced a 22 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to the lowest intake category. When food alone was analyzed, having an intake greater than or equal to 300 IU per day was associated with a 33 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer compared to the risk associated with an intake of less than 100 IU vitamin D per day.
Dr Skinner, who is currently with the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, stated, “Because there is no effective screening for pancreatic cancer, identifying controllable risk factors for the disease is essential for developing strategies that can prevent cancer. Vitamin D has shown strong potential for preventing and treating prostate cancer, and areas with greater sunlight exposure have lower incidence and mortality for prostate, breast, and colon cancers, leading us to investigate a role for Vitamin D in pancreatic cancer risk. Few studies have examined this association, and we did observe a reduced risk for pancreatic cancer with higher intake of Vitamin D."
"In concert with laboratory results suggesting antitumor effects of Vitamin D, our results point to a possible role for Vitamin D in the prevention and possible reduction in mortality of pancreatic cancer,” he concluded. “Since no other environmental or dietary factor showed this risk relationship, more study of Vitamin D's role is warranted.”
If pancreatic cancer patients are to improve their odds of achieving a remission or long-term survival, they should attempt to integrate into their conventional therapy as many of the following dietary changes and supplements as possible, but only under a physician’s supervision.
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Deficiencies of vitamin D are often found in the elderly and in women who have low intake of milk and receive inadequate exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is potent in minute quantities; one microgram of cholecalciferol has 40 IU of vitamin D activity.